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Abilene Cuisine (and no, that’s not an oxymoron)

2009 March 30
by Mike

In 2006, I ran my list of favorite places to eat in Abilene for those of you who may be coming through. Here it is again — updated.


1. Sharon’s (across from Towne Crier). Now our favorite bar-b-que place in town. Be sure to get the corn.

2. Betty Rose’s. I like the smaller version on S. 7th. Maybe it’s because it’s so close to the office. The friendliness of the people there matches the excellent food.

3. Harold’s. Two kinds of sauce: “hot” and “d— hot.” Believe the sign before you lather it on.

4. Joe Allen’s. Not quite the same ambiance since they left the shack on Treadaway . . . but still good.


1. Alfredo’s. It’s the only place in town Eddie Parish would get Mexican food. (That’s saying a lot since Eddie and Judy’s kitchen WAS the best place in town to eat Mexican food.) I will vouch for the guacamole. I’ve made sure to taste-test it scores of times before offering you, my dear readers, this recommendation. I did it for you. It’s the kind of servant I am.

2. Los Arcos. Randy Harris has made this a cult favorite. He ought to eat free there. They actually had to add on a side room. We call it the Harris Fajita Room.

3. Abuelo’s. “Los Mejores de la Casa.” About the best meal in town — though pricey by Abilene standards (about the price of a bagel and OJ in NYC).

4. Pappasito’s. I’d list it first, but it’s a little ways out of town. (2 hours and 15 minutes to the east, including a bathroom break at Love’s.) Add to this list Catina Laredo, which is about another 5-10 minutes to the east. Splurge and get the fresh guac.

5. Rosa’s. This is a sentimental favorite. We’ve crammed 30 people in there many times and laughed ourselves silly. If you go on Tuesday, you’ll be joined by a couple hundred ACU and Hardin-Simmons students for the Taco Tuesday special.


1. Szechuan. The list stops here. It was — I kid you not — named in some list of the best 100 oriental restaurants in the United States.


Hey, this is steak country. You can’t go wrong. The chains (Texas Roadhouse, Logan’s, Outback) are good. But I’d stick with a local: either Lytle Land and Cattle, Beehive, or Joe Allen’s. And for a real treat, drive down to Buffalo Gap to eat at Perini’s. (Tell Stan I said “hi.”)

My favorite place to get a steak is HEB. It’s eight minutes from their meat market to my grill. Add a generous amount of salt and a whole shaker of pepper; cook it to medium rare!


41 Responses leave one →
  1. March 30, 2009

    Still haven’t tried Alfredo’s — mainly because I’m afraid of how much I’ll probably like it. I confess that TaMolly’s is my favorite Mexican restaurant in town. I know it’s mainly ‘Tex’ and less ‘Mex’ but their hot sauce is my favorite (but it definitely doesn’t pass the guac test).

    I have been assigned to write an article about Pioneer Drive’s Easter Pageant this year. I found out last night that a “special feature” will be Harold Christian — Harold of Harold’s BBQ — will be joining them during the pre-pageant concert and has a solo of “His Eye is on the Sparrow”. Think I may have to go see that!

  2. March 30, 2009

    I’ve only been at Harold’s one time when Harold came out to sing. However, it’s apparently been a regular feature through the years. Alfredo’s is pure health food.

  3. Robert permalink
    March 30, 2009

    What? No Harvest Moon? No Little Panda? No Bueno? The Hill is surrounded by classy eating establishments!

  4. March 30, 2009

    While it isn’t a restaurant, the place to buy bread in Abilene is Beit Lechem.

  5. happy permalink
    March 30, 2009

    last night 3 mins from heb to my grill. 1 tablespoon kosher salt, 1 teaspoon thyme, 1 teaspoon paprika, 1 teaspoon garlic flakes & 1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper. rub in and medium. I only like my sushi raw.

  6. March 30, 2009

    La Popular breakfast burritos are to die for and the Abilenean coffee at HEB would be added to the list when you go get your steak…

  7. David permalink
    March 30, 2009

    Best pizza/Best $3 meal: slice of “stuffed meat” or “stuffed supreme” at Joe’s Pizza on Buffalo Gap Rd (much better than the Treadaway location). Two-crust pizza that is loaded, cup of sauce on the side. Whole pie is $20, feeds family of 6 and you’ll have leftovers.

  8. March 30, 2009

    Lantz – I’m a Hernandez burritos guy myself (the old location on S. 7th). But we love La Popular, too. I don’t drink coffee, but I hear Abilenean is great. (We have people from out of town buy it to take home.)

    David – Didn’t even go into pizza/Italian. We like Joe’s at 11th & Treadaway and Carino’s. Thanks for the heads up about the pizza at the other location.

    Happy – Yell when the steaks are ready!

  9. March 30, 2009

    Every time family or friends come out to visit me in Abilene they simply cannot believe how great the steaks and brisket are… and that there are so many places to get either! In fact, I have some friends who come out just to get a meal, and then if they have time – they stop by and see me. Ha! I gave three of Perini Ranch’s Cookbooks away last year for Christmas and will probably do the same this year. Los Arcos tends to be Minter Lane’s second service on Sundays (one Sunday there were over 50 of us there) and is probably more closely associated with first century ecclesia than anything else in town :o)

  10. March 30, 2009

    dps – Great theological insight. First century ecclesia with guac and salsa. How postmodern!

  11. March 30, 2009

    Last time we were at the new Joe Allens we didn’t think the food was as good as the old place. Perhaps concrete floors instead of dirt floors makes the difference.

  12. Wade permalink
    March 30, 2009

    Beehive downtown. Cheap and phenomenal.

  13. charlie s. permalink
    March 30, 2009

    If you are going to list Pappasita’s, then you now have to open up a whole category for seafood, and list Pappadeaux.
    I am hoping for an early lunch there on the 18th! will be keeping with the theme.

  14. Christine Thompson permalink
    March 30, 2009

    As far as Oriental is concerned, my favorite place in Abilene is called Bangkok Thai. They recently moved to the restaurant in The Regency on S. Clack. All of their food is gourmet and their lunch prices are great! There’s nothing better than eating freshly prepared food šŸ™‚

  15. Amber Brooks permalink
    March 30, 2009

    While I do like all of the restaurants listed in this blog, my favorite restaurant is not. It is definitely favored more by the younger generations in the community, but Sharky’s burritos are AMAZING! Not the cheapest burritos but they are unbeatable, if you do not know what to order I recommend rice, black beans, chicken, lettuce, tomato, and pico de gallo. Unbeatable.

  16. Jessica Rodkey! permalink
    March 30, 2009

    Zookinis (s/p?) has a really fun atmosphere, and they’re blueberry muffins are to die for!

  17. Michelle B. permalink
    March 30, 2009

    I’ll have to say Harvest Moon and Little Panda are great oriental food places. China Star is as well, but its a little pricey. =]

    I’m a big fan of buffets like Mr. Gatti’s and Golden Coral as well.

  18. Austin Gwin permalink
    March 30, 2009

    Fuji’s. Not only is their food amazing but you get dinner and a show.

  19. Melanie Bartholomew permalink
    March 30, 2009

    Fazoli’s is a great Italian Food place. It also has really great prices and all you can eat breadsticks.

  20. Kaylee Morelock permalink
    March 30, 2009

    Bonzai is a great place! It is cheap and the sushi is awesome!

  21. March 30, 2009

    Alfredo’s was a favorite of my ACU classmates, though I must say I never got why. However, I will say I feel privileged beyond measure to be in such close proximity to Eddie and Judy Parish’s kitchen these days. In fact, we are having dinner at Casa de la Parish one night next week, and my taste buds are already counting their blessings! šŸ˜€

  22. March 30, 2009

    Oh, to have an HEB. Or just an HEB convenience store (if such a thing existed). Instead, Joplin has the privilege of having 3 WalMart Supercenters to grocery shop at. WalMart’s version of variety in groceries deals with multiple locations, not food selection. Grab a freshly made jalapeno tortilla off the line next time you’re in HEB. *sigh*

  23. annie permalink
    March 30, 2009

    Mike & all the comments are making me ravenous! I could just eat today’s post, it all sounds so good. And, I’m NOT kidding, folks.

  24. Carson Henley permalink
    March 30, 2009

    I must agree with David from above. My favorite local flavor restaurant is Joe’s Pizza on Buffalo Gap Rd. just south of the mall. Cheap and delicious. Or if someone would like the best casual dining experience anywhere in America I would recommend Chili’s; mainly since I work there and I would feel bad if I didn’t mention it.

    I also want to keep my job.

  25. Lauren Ormsbee permalink
    March 30, 2009

    Famous Daves! its a great BBQ resturant i work there and no im not bias it really is delicious. Its over by the mall off Danville drive if you havent heard of it, you should try it .

  26. Kathy permalink
    March 30, 2009

    Iā€™m a Hernandez burritos guy myself (the old location on S. 7th).

    Finally!! Lo atenaste! For Mexican in Abilene, Hernandez on S. 7th is the only place to go. Not only are the burritos excellent, but so are the salsas. When I get homesick for Mexico, it’s off to Hernandez’. Que sabrosa es su comida!!! šŸ™‚

  27. Jessica Prive permalink
    March 30, 2009

    Dante’s in the mall. No joke. I’m from the east coast and I can’t find a better calzone in Abilene. Spinach and cheese, what more could a girl want?

  28. David Michael Barnett permalink
    March 30, 2009

    What is the name of the fancy steak house on the south side of town? We ate there when Matt graduated in Dec 2007 and it was great!

  29. March 30, 2009

    I haven’t been to Abilene in awhile, but I remember a Beehive restaurant in a small town close by that had great steaks. With a unique name like that, I’m guessing the same restaurant branched out.

    When we were there you couldn’t beat Joe Allens for steak or brisket. And for Mexican it was Casa Herrera (I think). Abilene does have great food! And I’m showing my age. šŸ™‚

  30. Johnathan permalink
    March 30, 2009

    I hear McDonalds is a good place….just kidding :p Actually a good place to eat would be that Japanese Steakhouse. Its expensive but oh man the food is AMAZING! and worth eating.

  31. March 31, 2009

    +1 on La Popular’s burritos! qb

  32. March 31, 2009

    Let’s not forget Taco Bueno’s roots are tied to South First Street in Abilene – however you intrepret that.

  33. March 31, 2009

    Being a foreigner and all and not having eaten Tex-Mex or TX BBQ until I was 20 years old, I have a unique slant on things… I’m playing catch-up!

    Most of my fave restaurants in the Abilene from my time there in the ’80’s are closed now… But there is one that remains that I do not think has been mentioned: Lola’s in Buffalo Gap (Used to be Judy’s Gathering Place – in a small building as you make the turn to go to the State Park). Unbelievable New Mexico Mexican food – Navajo fry bread and all! If any of you have not been, you need to go.

    If you know Reg Cox and Greg Perry, ask them about their first experience there in around 1985/1986. It is still open, I believe; ate there last year and will attempt to again when I come in August to drop the Freshman off!

  34. sarah s permalink
    March 31, 2009

    Anyone else like Oscars? I do. Litle out of the way mom and pop Mexican eateries are the best. And Joes Pizza-Pasta.

  35. Terry permalink
    March 31, 2009

    Can’t wait to visit Abilene!

  36. Geezer permalink
    April 1, 2009

    Does anyone miss the Red Barn? Not that the food was that great, but it was an Abilene institution for so long. I had my first Mexican plate there over 40 years ago. At that time I thought the pickled jalapeno pepper they put on top of the food was about the hottest thing in the world. A couple of decades in Texas and four years in Thailand changed my perspective on spicy considerably. Ma Brown’s boarding house was a decent place to eat well for cheap way back then as well. It was a real boarding house but you didn’t have to live there to eat there.

    I gotta try the Oriental place (Szechuan) the next time I’m in Abilene. There are an amazing amount of good restarants for the size of the town. Does Abilene have anything to compare with the Bluebonnet Cafe in Marble Falls? They have a pie and coffee happy hour there

  37. charlie s. permalink
    April 1, 2009

    Yes, I remember the Red Barn. It was a required stop after visiting that other Abilene institution located at 141 1/2 Oak. Last time I went by it, it had become a porn store.

  38. Heather A permalink
    April 1, 2009

    I should have known better than to read this post. You’re making me homesick! I would have to agree with a lot of your choices. And La Popular burritos are my fave, probably because it was closer to work and so easy to swing by on Dollar Burrito Days! Abilene does have some good places to eat. We’ve celebrated several birthdays out at Perini’s. Thanks for provoking the hunger today, Mike!

  39. April 2, 2009

    we love Eddie and Judy Parish! And their kitchen, too, for that matter…

    What about Ann Thai?

  40. edgar permalink
    April 6, 2009

    Ann Thai’s food is good, but the service is terrible. You’ll probably be okay if you pick up your order to go.

    Szechuan would really be a fine place if it had brown rice… as it is, it’s okay.

    Bonsai is pretty good… nice miso soup.

    Spano’s is good for Italian. Very nice atmosphere, piano music, good service. Great olive oil to dip your bread in.

  41. Randy permalink
    February 8, 2018

    Back in the mid 80’s, many of us stationed at Dyess AFB would jump on the motorcycles and go to Judy’s Gathering Place in Buffalo Gap, TX, on the weekends for breakfast. It was superb, especially considering how much food she served (Plus, her daughter was stunning, a fact not lost on us! I think a few of us went just hoping to see her.).

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